Netanyahu pledges to work for broad-based coalition

Netanyahu pledges to work for broad-based coalition

Claiming victory at parliamentary elections, acting Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu pledged to work for a broad-based government.

He wrote this in a statement on his Facebook page, commenting results of the exit polls.

"According to the exit polls, it is clear that Israel's citizens decided that they want me to continue to serve as prime minister of Israel, and that I form the widest possible majority [coalition]," he said.

According to exit polls, the alliance "Likud-Beiteinu" gets 31 seats in the 120- seat parliament. The newly-minted centrist party Yesh Atid led by TV personality Yair Lapid is a surprise second with 18 seats according to exit polls. Coming up next is the Israeli Labor party Avoda with 17 mandates. After that follow the religious party Shas with 13 seats and the right-wing "Jewish Home".

Left and Right blocs face off as majority of votes counted

With 99% of votes tallied, Right and Left blocs tie with 60 seats each; voter turnout 66.6%; Likud-Beytenu receive 31 seats, Labor 19, Bayit Yehudi and Shas 11, Livni and Meretz 6 each, UAL-Taal 5, Hadash 4, Kadima 2.

With the polls closed and the majority of votes tallied, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s Likud Beytenu list appears to have done even worse in Tuesday’s election than public opinion polls predicted last week, winning 31 seats -11 fewer than the 42 the two parties held in the last parliament.

In a clear shift away from the Right, the Center-Left bloc, which won only 55 seats in the 2009 election, had risen to 60 seats to bring it at an even split with the Right.

The 19th Knesset show 31 seats for Likud - Beytenu, Yesh Atid as the second biggest party with 19, Labor in third at 15, with Shas and Bayit Yehudi at 11 seats each, the Central Elections Committee announced.

United Torah Judaism received 7 seats, and the Tzipi Livni Party and Meretz received six seats each.

For the Arab parties, UAL - Taal received 5, Hadash 4, and Balad 3.

Kadima just passed the threshold with two seats.

Netanyahu tried to make the best of the results, saying he viewed them as an endorsement of his leadership and vowing to immediately start working on forming a coalition that would include parties on the Right, Left and Center. He immediately called Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid, who won an unexpected 19 seats, and asked him to cooperate with him in his next government.